Friday, August 19, 2005

Two Perspectives on B16 and the Synagogue

Pope Benedict XVI visited a Cologne synagogue today and the two MSM reports I've read have been wildly different.

From the AP via Yahoo.

From the Washington Post

I'm not one to bust all over the media for bias in reporting because, well, being a journalist (in training) myself, I don't think there's as much anti-Catholic stuff out there as some people think and, generally, I know how difficult it is to be fair and balanced in reporting and writing and then have to deal with news editors and copy editors.

But the difference between these two stories is striking.

The AP story (which it appears CNN has liberally used in drafting its own story) focuses mainly on the pope's remarks regarding rising anti-Semitism and even mentions that he got healthy applause. It does mention the recent Vatican-Israel quibble over the pope's condemnation of terrorist attacks, but notes that inclusion of Israel's ambassador to Germany assures us that is past us.

The Post article, however, brushes aside the pope's comments on anti-Semitism and focuses much more on possible sources of contention between Catholics and Jews, specifically noting that B16 "stopped short of apologizing for the Catholic church's failure to take a stronger public stand against the Nazis during World War II and the Holocaust."

Both included the quote: "I would encourage sincere and trustful dialogue between Jews and Christians, for only in this way will it be possible to arrive at a shared interpretation of disputed historical questions."

The AP story implies that the "disputed historical questions" are faith-related (and it also gives the more complete quote). The Post story implies the "disputed historical questions" are about the Church's response to the Holocaust. So which one is it? I haven't read the full text of the pope's remarks, but based on the complete quote given by the AP, it seems their interpretation is correct.

I actually know the Post reporter, Craig Whitlock, who covered this story. He was a Maryland statehouse reporter for the Post at the same time I was one for Capital News Service. I didn't like him much then - he was a get in, get out, I-don't-have-to-be-friendly-with-other-reporters-because-I'm-from-the-Post kind of guy. Or, at least that was my impression from the 3 months I worked with him. After that, he was transferred to Germany and it seems now mostly covers the military from there, though he's also done stuff on the EU constitution. Needless to say, I doubt he has much experience with WYD, the Vatican or Catholic-Jewish relations.